The UN atomic agency on Friday confirmed the existence of raw uranium in Libya after US news channel CNN reported that new regime forces had found potentially radioactive material.
“We can confirm that there is yellow cake (raw uranium) stored in drums at a site near Sabha in central Libya,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokeswoman Gill Tudor said.
She said that the uranium, stored by the government of the now-fugitive Moamer Kadhafi, had been declared to the IAEA and that it hoped to be able to examine the material “once the situation in the country stabilises.”
The alleged discovery appeared to contradict a statement from the United States last month, however, that all Libya’s yellow cake was at another site at Tajura near Tripoli.
Raw or unprocessed uranium, which has low radioactivity levels, needs to be enriched using a highly complex and expensive procedure before it can be used in nuclear power generation or in atomic weapons.
Libya agreed in 2003 to renounce its activities aimed at developing weapons of mass destruction as part of a rapprochement with Western countries that saw sanctions lifted and sensitive nuclear materials removed.
CNN reported that military forces loyal to the country’s National Transitional Council took on Thursday a crew to two large warehouses, one containing thousands of blue barrels.
Several of the barrels were marked with tape saying “radioactive,” and several plastic bags of yellow powder sealed with the same tape, CNN said.
Forces loyal to Libya’s new regime this week captured Sabha, Libya’s largest desert city in the deep south, from forces loyal to Kadhafi.